Nexplanon (which has replaced Implanon, an older version of the device) is a small, thin, implantable type of birth control that releases hormones. It is a flexible plastic rod the size of a matchstick that is put under the skin of your arm and is effective for up to three years.
Nexplanon prevents pregnancy in several ways. The most important way is by stopping release of an egg from your ovary. It also changes the mucus in your cervix, which acts as a barrier to sperm reaching and fertilizing an egg. In addition, it changes the lining of your uterus. It is important that you continue your routine annual exams and Pap smears while you use Nexplanon.
Nexplanon must be replaced every three years. Your healthcare provider can remove the implant at any time. If you want to become pregnant after removal, your ability to become pregnant may return quickly. If you don't want to get pregnant, you should begin another birth control method right away.
Nexplanon insertion is a minor procedure using a local anesthetic. It usually takes just a few minutes, and is performed during a normal office visit. During the procedure, you may feel a pinching sensation, similar to receiving a shot or injection.
Most women are not able to see Nexplanon after it has been inserted. You should be able to feel where the implant is by gently pressing on your skin in the area where it was inserted. To reduce the risk of infection, it is advised to avoid touching the site of insertion until it has healed
Nexplanon must be removed by the end of the third year. It is removed by making a small incision in your arm after numbing the area with local anesthetic.
If you wish to continue using Nexplanon at the end of three years, a new implant can be inserted in the same place as the old one during the same procedure. Nexplanon can be removed at any time if pregnancy is desired.
There is a slight risk that you will get a scar from insertion or removal of Nexplanon. Women with a family history of developing keloids (raised, thickened scars) are more likely to scar.
Nexplanon is a progestin-only method of birth control. Because it does not contain estrogen, your healthcare provider may recommend it even if you cannot use estrogen. It can also be used by women who are breastfeeding.
Tell your clinician if you have ever had any of the conditions just listed and to determine if Nexplanon is an appropriate form of contraception for you.
The most common side effect of Nexplanon is a change in your menstrual periods. Your menstrual period may be irregular and unpredictable while using Nexplanon. Other side effects may include:
Potential risks include:
Schedule an appointment with your medical provider or with Hall Health to discuss your birth control options and learn whether Nexplanon is appropriate for you given your medical history.
Your medical provider will provide instructions to you about when to schedule an appointment for insertion of the device. The timing of insertion is important and quite exact:
Bedsider.org provides information about many different birth control methods
Planned Parenthood's website offers information on the effectiveness of different kinds of birth control methods
If you have any questions and are a UW student or established Hall Health patient, you may call one of our Consulting Nurses for further information.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Women's Health Clinic staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Women's Health Clinic staff, January 2014